Block that Writer’s Block!

One of the fun things about writing is seeing how every writer has a different process.  There are so many ways to write a book, and each of them is the right way.  

But sometimes the book doesn’t cooperate, and the writer “gets stuck.”  Words dry up, and we stare at a blank page (or screen) while we think this is the stupidest story ever created on the face of the earth.  Many of us suddenly experience an urge to clean our ovens.  

We call this “writer’s block.”  

Sadly, many writers just give up at this point, and the world loses another potentially wonderful story.  Because who knows?  Maybe it really would have been, if only we’d finished the story.  

Writers all have different methods for overcoming writer’s block.  Some examples include:  

  1. Brainstorming with trusted readers
  2. Switching to another project
  3. Taking a writer’s retreat
  4. Interviewing the character (why are you being so stubborn?)
  5. Typing a letter to yourself, explaining why you don’t want to write this book
  6. Taking a day off
  7. Spending some time researching
  8. Trying a different writing venue or using a different writing tool 
  9. Tricking yourself with a reward method 
  10. Sending the problem to your subconscious, which will eventually return with an answer

Fine and good, but what happens when the stuck writer has a deadline?  And panic sets in?!?  You don’t have time to take any time off or to trick your subconscious, or…  What then?  

  • First of all, take a deep breath.  
  • Then, bite off one chunk of the elephant at a time.  Do the math to figure out how big the daily chunk will have to be.  
  • Consider this quote, which I keep taped to my computer:  “If this were real, with what the character knows, with what he/she is capable of, what could he/she do next?”  
  • To get to the end (you do know your end, right?) make a list of the information the characters need to learn in order to reach that end.  Possible scenes generate from such lists.  
  • Rent a room somewhere, free of distractions, and stay there until the book is done.  A writer friend of mine always swore by this.  
  • And never give up, because magic tends to happen under deadline.  There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate us to finish.  

Are you a deadline person?  Do you have another method to overcome whatever block tries to stop you?  

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10 thoughts on “Block that Writer’s Block!”

  1. Thanks, Sue. Great suggestions. I will sometimes dink around with stream of consciousness writing, just a scene, not planning on making it go anywhere. That’s helped. Right now, my writing’s been interrupted by work and Malice and I’m starting to panic. So I’m going to print the whole thing off and read it, see where I’ve gone and what needs to be tweaked.

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    1. Stream of consciousness writing is very helpful for a kickstart. After an interruption, it’s hard to jump back in, and I do the same, usually on retreat, reading the whole ms. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic suggestions. I love the rent a room one. I find changing where I write to work if it is writer’s block. If it’s the story that is the problem, then sometimes, it needs to be abandoned. If the words are not bringing me joy, they may not bring the reader joy either.

    I am a deadline person. If I don’t have a real deadline, I will often create one. Years of living in the legal world have made me a hit the marks kind of person – and I find fear spawns creativity in the darndest way!

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    1. Thanks, Kait! It’s interesting that you differentiate between writers block and a story in need of abandonment. I think of stories like that as stories needing a new approach, and I just haven’t found it yet. (She says, with countless abandoned stories in her drawer!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great ideas, Sue. A long time ago a writing instructor gave me a “make a list of 20 possibilities” technique that is very useful. The first five are going to be obvious and no good. The second five will be “meh” ideas. When you get to the last ten, then you’ll find something that works!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love that idea, Liz! When I do my humor writing workshop I say something similar. To find the funniest idea, write the alphabet down the left margin of a piece of paper, then find one idea for each letter. Could also be used to solve a plot problem or whatever you need!

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  4. I don’t feel like I have writer’s block when I write (one of the perks of outlining), but in this outline I’m doing now, I keep thinking “today’s the day I finish” but every day, I keep adding and tweaking so it seems I’m NEVER gonna start writing!

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  5. I’ve done almost all of those things at one time or another. I also send a signal to my brain that it’s time to get down to bichok (butt in chair, hands on keys) by lighting a candle on my desk. And a favorite CD is WRITER’S MIND that is supposed to guide my left and right brain to get my brainwaves in harmony. Technical stuff like gamma, beta, alpha, theta, delta, and binaural beats stuff translates to the first half of the CD for inspiration and the second half for writing. They both seem to work for me and I don’t care if it’s all in my mind.

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